Okay, so we’re about to get super personal here. Like on another level personal. If you’re a dude, you might want to quit here. Unless you have a keen interest in menstrual cycles or you - for whatever strange reason - want to pitch a menstrual cup to a lady in your life, I’d suggest you skip this blog post altogether. You’ve been warned.
If you made it past the disclaimer, yay! Let’s talk menstrual cups!
First of all, what is it?
A menstrual cup is an alternative to a tampon. It’s reusable, worn inside the vagina, and it collects flow rather than absorbing it. They come in tons of shapes and sizes to fit every wearer, and they are made from silicone. They are safe, and I have found a menstrual cup to be a much more comfortable way to manage my flow. You can watch here for more information.
I started using a cup in 2016. (I checked my Amazon orders to confirm this date, btw) I remember being really apprehensive, and thinking this would never work for me. After having Caleb, I had heavy, uncomfortable periods and was constantly having to change my pads or tampons. But I figured that a cup was worth a shot. After all, I was buying into the promise of not having to spend more money on pads and tampons on a monthly basis, and that a cup could hold as much as 2-4 tampons worth of menstrual flow.
The first two cycles came with a definite learning curve. I wore pads as backup, I leaked a couple of times, and I almost gave up. But that third cycle? On a trip to the beach I realized I could spend all the time I wanted in the beach or the pool and not have to worry about running out to a bathroom to change a tampon immediately after getting out of the water. I had zero leaks my third cycle using it, and I was sold. I wear it to exercise, to swim, while traveling, etc.
Last summer, we spent a week at the beach, and of course, my period arrived earlier than expected. I had forgotten my cup at home (I usually throw it in my bag anytime we travel, regardless of whether my period is expected or not), and I had to buy tampons. First of all, organic tampons are super expensive. Also, having to change a tampon every couple of hours, or every time you come out of the water at the pool or beach sucks.
Anyway, I’m no expert, and I’m definitely not in the medical field, so I cannot give you medical advice or facts. But there are a few reasons why I have found a menstrual cup to be life-changing.
Okay, so now that you know entirely way too much about me, I hope that you’ll consider making the switch (or at least trying it out!). An amazing resource is putacupinit.com. You can take a quiz there to see which cup might be your best fit, as well as read up on FAQ, and additional resources regarding menstrual cups.
For reference, this is the one I use: https://amzn.to/2VKq5HK
I hope this all helps!
There’s a lot of talk about balance floating around out there. Work/Life balance in particular always gets me thinking, and when I try imagining work/life balance, I think of spinning plates and tipping scales and running back and forth trying to keep them all perfectly aligned or it will all come crashing down.
Trying to maintain “balance” makes me see myself as frazzled, and it feels like an impossible goal to attain. In an ideal world, balance would mean that we are able to give our all to everything that is important to us, all of the time. But we don’t live in an ideal world, and if we are always giving 100%, then we are going to burn out very quickly.
I don’t believe in balance. I believe that life ebbs and flows and that there are periods where certain things take precedence over the others.
There are periods in time when work will be the focus over a lot of things - if you’re an accountant, for example, tax season means your scales are dangerously tipped towards work. For a photographer, the holiday season or wedding season may mean that you are spending less time than usual with your family.
If you have a new baby, your baby will probably take importance over your job and household duties.
If your marriage needs work, then it might be time to have someone watch the kids more often than usual so you can work on that aspect of your life.
And you know what? It’s okay.
It’s okay to lean in to work in that busy season because heck, it’s what’s paying the bills.
It’s okay to absorb your newborn and all their snuggly yumminess because guess what? They can’t take care of themselves.
It’s okay to leave the kids behind for an extra date night because you and your spouse need to reconnect just a little extra this month.
And it’s also okay to need time for yourself and to do something for you.
I get this question often on Instagram - “How do you do it all?” And my response is always as honest as possible. I don’t! During my busy season as a photographer, I definitely pull back from kid/house/volunteer duties. When it’s my off season, I’m giving my husband and kids as much focus as I can. Sometimes there are several blogging events in a row, and that takes the forefront. And sometimes I see that my marriage needs a little extra lovin’, so we’ll schedule an overnight with the grandparents or set up a couple of date nights. Sometimes I need to take care of myself, too, so I do whatever it is I need at the moment. I also have someone who cleans my house once a week, and I have a meal delivery service for myself and the kids, and a husband who does a lot, too.
If I wasn’t honest with people about that, I can see how they might think that “I do it all,” but it’s not fair to any of us, myself included, to think that. So the next time you wonder how you can balance it all - stop. Think about what in your life requires the most attention at this moment, and lean into that. Stop feeling guilty for it, and let it flow.
Eventually, you will find a balance - but don’t let yourself think that balance means that work, your home, your family, your faith, and your friendships will all be in alignment all of the time.
This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.
While we aren't hugely into football in our house, we always tune into the Super Bowl. Whether we host something at home or go watch at a friend's house, Super Bowl always has this idea of good food and snacks around it. We aren't hosting this year, but I wanted to get in on the fun and partnered with the delicious SUPERPRETZEL and made a kid-friendly snack to share with you guys! It was easy to assemble, quick to prepare, and will have little tummies (and big ones, too) very happy.
SUPERPRETZEL's frozen pretzels are like bringing a piece of the stadium home. They are soft and chewy, and they come with that delicious pretzel salt (you know that's your favorite part of stadium pretzels, too!). They are ready in minutes, and there are so many ways you can prepare them, too!
What I loved about these is how easy they are to put together, and that your kids can help! Caleb liked putting the cheese and pepperoni on the pretzels, and I enjoyed that we were able to do it together.
Super Pizza with SUPERPRETZEL
To me, London was the most difficult part of our trip. I had really been looking forward to it, because I had never been there, but jet lag had the kids acting all kinds of crazy, and I know I was off too. It was the first leg of our trip. We could easily have spent another couple of days in London, and still had stuff to do. But for this trip, I think we were able to fit in a lot!
I don't have any restaurant recommendations, really. With the kids it was basically wherever we could be seated right away and where we all fit. Anything I do recommend for food is included in the list below!
Park Plaza Westminster London Bridge
We stayed here 2 nights and we loved this hotel for a few reasons.
London Heathrow Marriott Hotel
We had an early flight to Luxembourg on a Monday morning and we didn’t want to chance missing it with traffic and all of that, so we stayed one night at the London Heathrow Marriott Hotel. This was also a great property, although we didn’t really get to experience much of it. There was a shuttle to the airport, which was helpful. The rooms were comfy and clean.
Our time was limited, since we really had two and a half full days in London, so there were things we weren’t able to see in more detail - many of them we just drove by on the tour bus. I’m adding them below so you can try to squeeze them in if you can!
Natural History Museum
Covent Gardens Markets
Diana Memorial Gardens
Tower of London
Churchill War Room
Tell me in the comments, what did I leave out?
Earlier this month, we returned from a 12 day trip to Europe. We had gone to Paris with Caleb when he was 8 months old, but Paris was our only destination for 10 days on that trip, and he was just barely mobile. This time around, our itinerary was a little more complicated, it was winter, and there were two kids to deal with as opposed to just one. We survived and we made some great memories, but it definitely was not an easy trip.
While I admire families like The Bucket List Family, the reality is that we are not them and this is not our full time gig. Traveling with small kids is a lot of work. We made some beautiful memories, but it is NOT for the faint of heart.
We decided to take this trip because Eddie's cousin (who is Chloe's godmother) had a baby girl in September and we wanted to meet her. They live in Luxembourg. But we also figured if we were making the trip, then we were going to add a couple of stops while we were there.
We booked everything on this trip ourselves and did not use a travel agent. I checked fares for a few weeks until we found something we were comfortable with. (A tip: Use Google Flights or Skyscanner to help you find the best combinations out there. You can't book it on Google, but it will send you to the sites to book with the rates they find.)
For hotels, we had points with several of our credit cards, so we browsed their sites and booked what was most convenient for us and what fit in with our points value. We then booked our travel arrangements from one city to the next. We flew from London to Luxembourg and we took a train from Luxembourg to Paris (it was significantly cheaper and way less time consuming than sitting in an airport). We also booked a rental car for the days were staying in Luxembourg.
We did not book any tours or activities in advance because we weren't sure what the kids would be up for. We decided to take it day by day.
This was a winter trip, and we were expecting temperatures in the thirties, so we wanted to make sure we packed accordingly. However, because of the transfers and traveling to different cities, we wanted to keep our packing as minimalist as we possibly could. We didn't totally succeed, but we had very few pieces of clothing that didn't get worn on the trip. We ended up with three suitcases - one large one for Eddie & I, a medium one for Caleb and Chloe, and a small carry-on bag that we used to carry a change of clothes for each of us and prescription medications.
Fashion and perfectly curated looks were not a priority - I mean we all still looked put together, but my outfits were probably not the most stylish. I went for function, convenience, and being able to use pieces multiple times. I stuck to a color palette - in our case black, white, and grey, and threw a few more colorful pieces in for each person. We each had two pairs of shoes, but we all could probably have left one pair behind.
We packed plenty of light, thin layers that we could add or remove depending on the weather, and each of us had a puffer jacket. We made sure to have enough socks for layering, gloves, hats, and scarves.
For Chloe, I packed enough diapers to last us through the day of travel and two days after. I ended up stopping in a grocery store and picking up a small pack of diapers once during the trip (they had the exact brand of diapers we use for Chloe - Pampers Pure).
We packed all the medications we knew we would need on a regular basis, and all the regular emergency medications. Things I wish I had: the nebulizer and an extra bottle of Benadryl packed in one of the suitcases. They took our children's Benadryl at security in London Heathrow, and we couldn't get anymore while we were there.
Planes, Trains, & Automobiles
Before this trip, Chloe has never been on a plane. I wasn't sure how she would do. All things considered, she did pretty well. We booked an 8 hour overnight flight from Miami to London (Virgin Atlantic) in the hopes that the kids would sleep. We arrived at the airport early, and we were able to get bulkhead seats and a toddler cot. Caleb slept about 2 hours at the start of the flight. Chloe didn't fall asleep until about 5 hours in. Once we were able to transfer her to the cot, it was much more pleasant.
From London, we flew to Luxembourg, but that was a very short flight. We flew British Airways. The security line at Heathrow is pretty insane and they are very particular about liquids. We had our Benadryl taken away here and there was NO getting around it with them.
Once we arrived in Luxembourg, we had a rental car waiting for us. We booked directly through their website (Sixt) and we rented car seats for this kids. We ended up with a BMW X3 and it was perfect for car seats, two strollers, and all our bags. Having a rental car was one of the nicest things we did on the trip. We were able to take multiple day trips, and being able to leave things in the car was nice. Plus, the kids are used to being in cars, so their behavior was usually much better in the car than in other settings.
We took a train from Luxembourg to Paris, and that was pretty fun, too. However, France's transit workers were on strike so our first train got cancelled. We were able to rebook, thankfully, but the train was PACKED when we got on it. I would definitely recommend "splurging" for the first class train - we were able to sit at a table and had large, cushioned, comfortable chairs; and have a game plan for getting bags, kids, strollers, etc. on and off the train.
Our final flight was from Paris to Miami. We flew Air France, which has to be one of the most family/kid-friendly airlines I've been on. As soon as they noticed that we had small children at the boarding gate, they ushered us to a separate line for families. We were able to board after the first and business class passengers, which is always helpful with small kids. As soon as we were in the air, the crew handed out kids activity kits, and for the meals and snacks, kids were always served first. Their meals were really kid friendly and appropriate, too.
What Did We Learn? SO MUCH.
If you're planning an international trip with small kids, I hope this helps you!
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